In last week’s case, we met Jack Slade, a man Montana vigilantes lynched for little more than obnoxious behavior. This week’s case is the murder of Annie Le, a graduate student at Yale University.
The world looked bright for 24-year-old Annie Le in September 2009. Born in San Jose, California, to Vietnamese American parents, she had been accepted into a Ph.D. program in pharmacology at Yale University. She was also about to marry Jonathan Widawsky, a graduate student in applied physics and mathematics at Columbia University.
Nothing special marked Tuesday, September 8, 2009. Annie Le left her apartment and took a Yale bus to the university campus. Around 10:00 a.m., she left her office in the Sterling Hall of Medicine and walked to the building that housed her laboratory. No one saw her after that. When she hadn’t returned home by 9:00 p.m., one of her five housemates filed a missing persons report.
Because of her upcoming wedding, there was initial speculation that she might be a runaway bride. But she’d left her purse, phone, credit cards, and cash in her office, which argued against a voluntary disappearance.
What Happened to Annie Le?
Security camera video showed Annie entering the lab building at 10 Amistad Street, but none showed her leaving. Police closed the entire building for their investigation. Before long, the FBI and the Connecticut State Police joined the search for Annie.
On Sunday, September 13, the day Annie was supposed to marry Widawsky, searchers found her body stuffed in a cable chase inside a basement wall in the laboratory building. An autopsy determined she died from traumatic asphyxia due to neck compression.
The basement where authorities found Annie’s body housed animals for experiments and research. The entire building was highly secure and all but impossible to access without a Yale ID card. This allowed police to focus on university students and employees.
Four days later, on September 17, police arrested Raymond Clark III. They identified him through DNA and security video. Clark was a 24-year-old technician whose job was caring for the lab animals.
Clark pleaded not guilty to Annie’s murder in January 2010. But after a year of delays and legal maneuvering, he changed his plea to guilty on March 17, 2011. Clark also entered an Alford plea to the additional charge of attempted sexual assault. In exchange, he received a sentence of 44 years.
Today (2023), Clark is inmate # 371189 at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. His scheduled release is September 16, 2053, when he will be 68 years old.
In 2018, the Oxygen television series A Wedding and a Murder featured Annie’s case in an episode entitled The Vanishing Bride-to-Be.
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